Cell Alpha Is a Super-Premium Speaker Made by Apple Veteran Designers
The iPhone is one of Apple's most successful products, and this sometimes makes some of us forget that they also have a significant influence on the audio industry. Twenty years ago, Apple introduced the iPod, and they've also been credited with bucking the TWS trend in recent years. That's why when a veteran Apple employee creates his audio device. The world needs to pay extra attention.
He is Christopher Stringer. His name doesn't sound familiar at all, but he spent 22 years working as a designer on Jony Ive's team, and his name is listed on about 1,400 patents that Apple registered. From the first generation iPod to the HomePod, Stringer was directly involved in its development.
Now, he is the CEO of Syng, a startup he founded in 2017. Syng's first product was cell alpha, a super-premium speaker priced at $1,799, approximating 194,741.75 Kenyan Shilling. Its rounded shape with a diameter of 30 cm is more like a 360-degree camera than an audio device, and somehow I was immediately reminded of the Death Star of the Star Wars franchise.
The flats on the top and bottom sides are populated by a subwoofer with a "force-balanced" configuration — not a Star Wars reference. Then in the middle, we can see three mid-range drivers positioned around the device. The frequency response is recorded at 30 Hz – 20,000 Hz.
Syng classifies Cell Alpha not as stereophonic or surround speakers, but "Triphonic." This term is a fancy term for spatial audio technology. This means that Cell Alpha can fill the entire room with surround sound and the impression that each particular sound or instrument comes from different points in the room very accurately.
To make this happen, Cell Alpha also utilizes three microphones that measure the room's geometry. By observing the reflections of sound, the device can map the space where it stands. It sounds similar to the homepod's ability to detect its position indoors. As I said earlier, Stringer was involved in making the HomePod, but he also spent about three years perfecting the technology found in Cell Alpha.
Cell Alpha will also come with a companion app for Android and iOS devices called Syng Space. Through the application, the user can manipulate further the points of placement of the sound. According to a Financial Times report, Syng also plans to license its audio technology to other hardware manufacturers.
When it comes to connectivity, Cell Alpha comes with both AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect support. In addition to playing audio wirelessly, the device also has two USB-C ports to connect to other audio sources. You can also connect cell Alpha to TVs with an HDMI eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) port, but you need a special cable that needs to be redeemed separately for $49(5,304.25 Kenyan Shilling).
Bluetooth LE is also listed in the Cell Alpha specification details, but it is only valid when connecting other units. Yes, if you have a budget, you can put more than one Cell Alpha unit in the room. According to Syng, you can obtain the best spatial audio experience with the configuration of three Cell Alpha units.
$1,799 is not a low price for a wireless speaker, especially if multiplied by three. The banderol is a banderol for bundles accompanied by a table stand. Syng will also sell cell alpha floor stands for $1,969.
Syng isn't the only audio hardware manufacturer whose founder is an Apple alumnus. Not long ago, I also wrote about the VZR Model One. This gaming headset also offers spatial audio effects through acoustic manipulation techniques rather than relying entirely on software. Like Syng, VZR was also founded by former senior Apple employees.